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English Summaries (02-03/2018)

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Anne Karhu, Hannu Savolainen & Vesa Närhi

Co-operation and psychological information enhance the functioning of students with ADHD symptoms at school

Behavioral problems in school are common and especially prevalent with students who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Increasing multi-professional co-operation along with preventative evidence-based interventions are needed to address the needs of students with problem behavior in school. Previous literature has shown that effective support for students with ADHD symptoms can be integrated into mainstream classroom activities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of Check in – check out (CICO) intervention on problem behavior in Finnish schools piloting ProSchool school-wide positive behavior support. The key features of the CICO are brief morning and afternoon meetings with an adult, the use of a daily point card, regular positive feedback during the day and parental involvement. With a single case experimental design with two students, we examined the effects of CICO intervention on problem behavior, and the fidelity and acceptability of the intervention. Direct observation data obtained from external observers showed a decrease of problem behaviors and an increase of appropriate behaviors during the CICO intervention for both students. CICO was implemented with high fidelity, and its acceptability among school personnel, students and parents was excellent. The results indicate that effective behavior support for students with disruptive behaviors can be easily applied in general education classrooms.

Keywords: behavior, intervention, intensified support, observation study, single case design, ADHD


Jaana Minkkinen, Risto Hotulainen & Arja Rimpelä

Psychosocial problems among immigrant youth in the Helsinki metropolitan area

Due to increasing immigration, a growing number of Finnish youths or their parents are immigrants. It is therefore more important than ever to study the psychosocial well-being of immigrant background youths but, so far, studies on this topic are scarce. Our aim was to study whether the psychosocial problems reported by immigrant background youths differed from those reported by non-immigrant background youths. We also studied the development and permanence of the problems. Psychosocial problems were measured using the SDQ Questionnaire. We utilized the Metropolitan Longitudinal Finland (MetLoFIN) data, gathered from seventh-graders (= 9 497), ninth-graders (= 7 738) and second-year high school and vocational school students (= 8 461) in 14 municipalities in the Helsinki metropolitan area in 2011–2016. Immigrant background youths, especially boys, reported a slightly higher number of psychosocial problems than non-immigrant background boys. Internalizing problems developed in the same way in all youths, while the trajectories of externalizing problems in immigrant background youths were different than in non-immigrant youths. The problems proved to be comparatively permanent regardless of the youth’s background. To our knowledge, this is the first large-scale longitudinal study on immigrant background youths’ psychosocial problems in Finland.

Keywords: immigrant, psychosocial problems, internalizing problems, externalizing problems, SDQ, longitudinal


Noona Kiuru, Katariina Kalliomäki, Riitta-Leena Metsäpelto, Timo Ahonen & Riikka Hirvonen

The associations of participation in extracurricular activities, school type and gender with adolescents’ subjective well-being in the transition from primary school to lower secondary school

The aim of this study was to investigate the role that participating in extracurricular activities and changing from one school to another play in the changes of adolescent subjective well-being, and whether this role is different depending on the adolescent’s gender. The data consisted of 848 adolescents who answered questions on their extracurricular activities in the fall of grade 6 and questions on subjective well-being in the fall of grade 6, the fall of grade 7, and the spring of grade 7. The results showed that adolescents’ self-esteem decreased and depressive symptoms increased after adolescents had transitioned to lower secondary school. Lack of extracurricular activities also acted as a risk factor regarding adolescents’ subjective well-being. Depressive symptoms increased and life satisfaction decreased during the school transition especially among those adolescents who did not participate in any extracurricular activities. Changing to another school was related only to the development of self-esteem: self-esteem increased from the fall of grade 6 to the fall of grade 7 among students who changed schools during the transition from primary school to lower secondary school, whereas the self-esteem of students who stayed in the same school did not change. Adolescent gender also played a role in the associations between participation in extracurricular activities, changing from one school to another and subjective well-being. In particular, the self-esteem of boys who changed to another school was higher than the self-esteem of girls who changed schools. In addition, participation in structured activities was especially important for boys’ life satisfaction, whereas overall lack of extracurricular activities (either structured or unstructured) was a risk factor for girls’ life satisfaction. 

Keywords: school transition, extracurricular activities, structured activities, unstructured activities, changing to another school, gender, subjective well-being, early adolescence


Anne Varonen, Heta Tuominen, Lauri Hietajärvi, Katariina Salmela-Aro, Kai Hakkarainen & Kirsti Lonka

Achievement goal orientations, education-related personal goals and academic achievement among sixth-graders

We examined what kinds of achievement goal orienta-tion profiles can be identified among sixth-graders (= 745) and how students with different profiles differ with respect to their education-related personal goals, goal appraisals (i.e., commitment, effort, progress and stress) and academic achievement. By utilizing a person-oriented approach and K-means cluster analysis, groups of students with different motivational profiles were identified. The open-ended answers concerning personal goals were categorized by means of qualitative content analysis. Group differences in education-related goals, goal appraisals and academic achievement were examined by means of cross-tabulations and analyses of variance. Four achievement goal orientation profiles were identified: performance-avoidance-oriented (30 %), mastery-oriented (25 %), success-oriented (22 %) and avoidance-oriented (23 %). Mastery- and success-oriented students reported the highest academic achievement, as well as commitment and effort related to their educational goals. Performance-avoidance- and success-oriented students appraised their goals as more stressful than mastery-oriented students. The results indicate that there are differently motivated sixth-graders who also differ with respect to their goal appraisals. Mastery- and success-oriented students have positive goal appraisals, but a strong performance-focus seems also to entail goal-related stress.

Keywords: motivation, achievement goal orientations, personal goals, education-related goals, academic achievement


Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen & Jarkko Hautamäki

Does effort explain group differences in performance? Log data analysis on the relation of self-reported effort, working time as a measure of invested effort, and performance in mathematical task 

Studies conducted in educational settings often contain cognitive measurements which have no consequences for participating pupils. Some students do not put their best effort in the testing situation, which leads to underestimation of their competence level. In this study, we tested a hypothesis about the role of effort in explaining the gender gap often observed in educational assessment studies with 15-year-old ninth graders. We expected that effort as measured by log data analysis of computer-based testing would also explain the increasing performance gaps regarding students’ support needs after controlling for initial performance differences in seventh grade. We tested the hypotheses by fitting structural equation models on the MetrOP data consisting of circa 7,000 students. The results indicated that in the tasks measuring mathematical thinking, girls performed slightly better at the baseline measurement and the gap increased during lower secondary education. The increase was fully explained by differences in self-reported effort and log data analysis of time investment. Students with support needs had a lower baseline level and the gap increased more. This was only partially explained by effort. Time investment was a much stronger predictor of performance than self-reported effort. It was concluded that log data enable more accurate measurement of effort and task behavior, and these can partly explain observed performance differences both at the individual and group level. 

Keywords: log data analysis, self-reported effort, time investment, mathematical performance, changes, time-, gender- and special educational gaps


Hannele Tommo, Laura Hokkanen & Liisa Klenberg

Executive function behaviors in preschool children with difficulties in language or social skills

Executive functions (EF) are essential for learning and predict school success even better than academic skills. During the preschool year EFs can be evaluated by questionnaires in the everyday daycare environment. The aim of this study was to examine how EF features are associated with difficulties in language and/or social skills identified during the preschool year. The study is part of the standardization study of Attention and Executive Function Rating Inventory for Preschoolers (Attex-P). The participants of this study (= 323) were divided into four subgroups according to the Taito questionnaire: Language skills difficulties group (= 21), Social skills difficulties group (= 39), Language and social skills difficulties group (= 8) and control group (= 255). EF behaviors were assessed with 44 items included in the Attex-P. Compared to the control group, children with language and/or social skills difficulties had more EF problems in everyday situations in preschool. Children with language difficulties had problems of inattention and taking initiative while children with social skills difficulties had more dysfunctions in inhibition. Children with language and social skills difficulties had more wide-ranging difficulties in EF behaviors than the other groups. Thus, according to EF ratings, children with different developmental difficulties showed diverging features of EFs that need to be acknowledged during the preschool period. Using questionnaires enables gathering information about a child’s everyday capability. This in turn serves as a good basis for planning the support needed in preschool and at school.

Keywords: executive function, language skills, social skills, questionnaires, preschool


Erika Maksniemi, Lauri Hietajärvi, Kirsti Lonka, Elina Marttinen & Katariina Salmela-Aro

Associations between socio-digital participation, sleep quality and school well-being among 6thgraders

The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between socio-digital participation (SDP), sleep quality and school well-being among 6thgraders. More specifically, it examined how socio-digital participation, i.e. technology-mediated social practices and digital gaming, was associated with 6thgraders’ sleep quality, school burnout and school engagement. Fur-ther, we examined how these differ across genders. In addition, the mediating effect of sleep quality between SDP and school burnout and school engagement was examined. This study was part of the Mind the Gap research project and the data were collected from 6thgraders in Helsinki in spring 2013 (= 749). Results suggested that active friendship-driven SDP and playing action games were associated with poorer sleep quality among girls. Among girls active media consumption was associated with lower school engagement and active knowledge creation with higher school engagement. Boys who were consuming media actively reported poorer sleep quality and boys who actively played action games reported school burnout. Poorer sleep quality was associated with school burnout and lower school engagement within both genders. Among girls sleep quality partly mediated the association between friendship-driven SDP and inadequacy as a student and association be-tween friendship-driven SDP and exhaustion. Among boys sleep quality did not mediate the association between SDP and school well-being.

Keywords: socio-digital participation, social media use, digital gaming, sleep quality, school burnout, school engagement


Helena Thuneberg & Hannu Salmi

Making the invisible observable: Cluster analysis of learning abstract phenomenon by augmented reality 

The role of digitalization in tea-ching is rapidly growing. In addition, adapting augmented reality (AR) is becoming more and more common at school and therefore its study within the formal and informal learn-ing context is important. Participants of the AR-study were 146 sixth-graders. They used the AR at the science center. By using cluster analysis of self-organizing maps (SOM), the aim was to identify subgroups of the students and supplement earlier results. The students using AR in science learning were clustered based on reasoning, motivation and science knowl-edge results. Earlier it had been noticed that after the AR-experience science test results generally improved, with the biggest gain among the students with lowest achievement. The cluster analysis supplemented this by identifying a majority group of boys in which the students were especially interested in science learning both at school and at the science center using AR. In spite of low school achievement their high motivation led to good science learning results subsequent to the exhibition. The earlier results, according to which the girls closed the sci-ence knowledge gap between boys after using AR, became more relative, as two girl-dominated subgroups were identified. In one group the students were motivated, but wrong an-swers increased; in the other the students were highly uncertain and after the AR-experience there was no change. Possible reasons for the results were considered on the basis of motivation and concept formation theories. The clustering results complemented earlier findings of AR-gains in learning as an unexpected response to intervention was discovered by the non-linear analysis.

Keywords: augmented reality, SDT-motivation theory, informal learning, SOM-cluster analysis, science education